In traditional media–films, television, novels, comics, etc.–a creator usually assumes a level of familiarity with his medium of choice on the part of the audience. As a filmmaker, you know your viewers expect a movie to run around two hours. That helps you pace your scenes, as the audience will have an instinctive sense of how far through the story is. If your protagonist appears to die ten minutes into the movie, you know your viewers will be wondering “how will she survive?” and “when will she come back?” rather than sitting confused, trying to figure out if the film is over already.
Similarly, a novelist needn’t worry about readers assuming each page is a self-contained unit, as if it were a scene in a play. Basic literacy comes with a knowledge of the existence of section and chapter breaks. Novels may vary dramatically in length, form, and viewpoint, but certain fundamentals remain the same. Continue reading